Thursday, January 15, 2015
Springfield Republican: MODOT funding gap will have to be addressed
It’s something we already suspected, but officials from the Missouri Department of Transportation officially confirmed this week that our state has a serious funding problem in regard to our transportation infrastructure. According to transportation officials, our state will have only $325 million per year to pay for our roads and bridges. Contrast that with the figure they say we need to do the job properly - $485 million – and you can see there is a significant funding gap that will have to be addressed.
For now, the department plans to make do with the funds they have available. Under a proposal they are considering, that would mean fully maintaining 8,000 miles of roads in our state that will be designated as primary, and providing only limited maintenance to the 26,000 miles of roads designated as supplementary. To give you some idea of what limited maintenance would involve, it would include snow removal, patching of potholes, striping and re-striping. However, with this proposal, a majority of our roadways in our state would not receive the maintenance they need to stay in top condition.
We are all very concerned about this funding shortfall. As the newly named Chair of the Committee on Appropriation for Economic Development, Revenue, Transportation, Labor and Insurance it will be a priority and we will spend a significant amount of time discussing potential funding solutions this year. Keep in mind that voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal in August for a three-quarter cent state sales tax for transportation, and that our state budget has very limited room when it comes to redirecting general revenue funds. The result is that we will have some tough choices to make in the coming months. I will keep you updated as the discussion develops, but also feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this issue that is of great importance to all of us who use our roads on a regular basis.